Boxing: Morilla’s Report Card – Garcia Survives Herrera in Puerto Rico

Our resident boxing writer Diego Morilla serves up a full weekend wrap-up of the most relevant boxing events in the worldwide scene. Every fight that matters is right here, in one place, and at one click away. Follow Morilla on Twitter at @MorillaBoxing

Bayamon, Puerto Rico, March 15

Danny Garcia MD 12 Mauricio Herrera, WBC/WBA junior welterweight title

In any other occasion, this would have been a close call for a fighter who doesn’t have much more to prove at this level. Instead, it became a wasted opportunity for a fighter to finally secure the love and respect of a new fan base. Garcia (28-0, 16 KO) was fighting for the first time in Puerto Rico, the land of his ancestors, and was trying to win the hearts of the local fans in a boxing-crazy island that does not have a native current reigning world champion for the first time in years. Instead, he turned in a lackluster performance against a motivated and aggressive Herrera (20-4, 7 KO) who made Garcia look slow and sloppy. None of them were in immediate danger of being stopped at any point during the contest, but it appeared that Herrera was the one who came in more prepared and managed to put the unified champion on defensive mode. Garcia won by two scores of 116-112 while the other one called for a draw at 114 apiece, and somehow failed to galvanize the audience in his favor, one of his goals for this particular fight.

The winner goes on to: Garcia indicated that he had problems to make the 140 lb limit and hinted a jump in weight, but don’t expect Floyd Mayweather to clear his schedule to fight him after seeing him squeak by a respectable but limited contender.

Deontay Wilder KO 1 Malik Scott, WBC heavyweight eliminator

The Ukranian crisis (no, not that one…) threatens to leave a big void in the heavyweight division. How bad is it? Hint: the next scheduled heavyweight title bout will be available on basic cable. Hopefully, it will not be as bad as this terrible mismatch, where undefeated 2008 Olympic bronze medalist Wilder (31-0, 31 KO) hardly broke a sweat as he KOd Scott (36-2-1, 13 KO) at 1:36 into the first round with a pawing left hook that would have felt like a soft breeze for either one of the Klitschko brothers. The two heavily-tattooed, towering fighters promised a lot of fireworks, but I barely had time to put my popcorn bag in the microwave oven by the time this fight was already being stopped. Yes, Wilder is a powerful and athletic fighter with a bright future, but he’ll need to step up his level of opposition pretty soon if he wants to be a credible champion someday. Sadly, this was supposed to be a step-up fight for him. I guess we’ll have to wait a little longer, then.

Wilder vs Scott
Deontay Wilder Vs Malik Scott Best Boxing Promotions Joel Colon

The winner goes on to: With a record like that, Wilder can choose to go anywhere he wants, but he should take a walk on the “wilder” side if he really wants to win some hearts and minds, and not just some meaningless title belt.

Juan Manuel Lopez TKO 2 Daniel Ponce De Leon, junior lightweights

A much welcomed comeback from an exciting fighter. After losing two title fights in front of an audience that had already christened him as the Next Big Thing in Puerto Rican boxing, “Juanma” Lopez (34-3, 31 KO) needed a dramatic win to revive his rapidly fading career. Enter Ponce de Leon (45-6, 35 KO), Juanma’s first high-profile victim, against whom he earned his first title six years ago with a smashing first-round KO. Things appeared to take a turn for the worse when Ponce de Leon sent Juanma to the canvas early in round 2, but then the local fighter rose from the floor to put his foe down twice in dramatic fashion, and the bout was then stopped at 2:44 when the Mexican fighter was on the receiving end of a frantic onslaught and the crowd was going wild in support of their resuscitated fighter. Big win for a fighter that was already being counted out by many (myself included).

The winner goes on to: Not too far, sadly. A victory against an also-shot fighter is not to be mistaken for a career-rejuvenating win. He may have earned a new title shot, but the future still looks dim for a fighter once considered to be the new Tito Trinidad.

Daniel Jacobs KO 1 Milton Nuñez, middleweights

Still in the comeback trail after a career-threatening stoppage loss three years ago and a bout with cancer, middleweight contender Jacobs (27-1, 24 KO) deserved an easy fight to gain confidence after so much hardship, and he got his wish with this easy demolition of Nuñez (26-10-1, 24 KO), which came at 2:25 first round courtesy of the three-knockdown rule. It’s easy to root for Jacobs, a smooth fighter with tons of talent, but he’ll need stiffer challenges before we start believing in him again.

The winner goes on to: Hopefully, he’ll live up to the expectations (and the fantastic back-story of his fight with cancer) once placed in him and become a factor in the talent-rich 160 lb division.

Bethlehem, Pa., March 15

Vyacheslav Glazkov UD 12 Tomasz Adamek, IBF heavyweight eliminator

Mild upset in a pretty good scrap between two small but talented heavyweights. Poland’s Adamek (49-3, 29 KO) was aiming to stay in the mix at the top of the heavyweight division with a bold challenge against an unbeaten young contender in Ukraine’s “Czar” Glazkov (17-0-1, 11 KO), but ended up finding himself on the receiving end of a surprisingly easy beatdown. Glazkov came out with guns blazing from the very first bell, and by the fifth round he had established his superiority in every department. Adamek surged in the second half, but he was severely impaired by an injury that had his right eye almost closed shut, the last two rounds belonged to Glazkov, who took a 117-110 (twice) and 116-112 decision in his favor.

The winner goes on to: Nothing like a young, smalll Ukranian to replace two old big ones, right? Glazkov is no Klitschko, but he can become a serious factor in the division if he continues to produce performances as solid as this one.

Isaac Chilemba UD 10 Denis Grachev, light heavyweights

Big comeback win for a superb fighter. Malawi’s Chilemba (22-2-2, 9 KO) had a surprisingly easy time against a respected opponent in Russia’s Grachev (13-3-1, 8 KO), a former kickboxer known for having pulled an upset or two in the past two years. After two disappointing fights against Tony Bellew that netted him a record of 0-1-1, Chilemba got his act together and came back in superb form, scoring a shutout with cards of 100-90 and 99-91 (twice) to revive his championship dream once again.

The winner goes on to: African’s own “Golden Boy” may be on the brink of a title fight that could give his impoverished small nation its first world champion.

Palenque, Mexico, March 15

Fernando Montiel MD 10 Cristobal Cruz, featherweights

Beautiful scrap between two battle-hardened former world champs. In the end, “Kochulito” Montiel (51-4-2, 38 KO) grabbed the decision after a tough fight against a true veteran in a slower but still tough-as-nails Cruz (40-16-3, 24 KO), who once again gave a phenomenal account of his talent and grit. Cruz got up from the canvas in rounds 2 and 4 to give Montiel a serious challenge and appeared to be surging towards the end of a terrific ten-rounder that was worthy of a championship fight. A clear knockdown by Cruz was inexplicably ruled a slip in the eighth round. The scores (96-92, 97-91 and 94-94) reflected the terrific back-and-forth action of the fight.

The winner goes on to: Both fighters can call themselves winners after such a good showing, and both of them will get their chances in a bigger stage.

Liverpool, England, March 15

Tony Bellew TKO 12 Valery Brudov, cruiserweights

In a move that could have some positive implications in reviving his new weight class, former 175 lb champ Bellew (21-2-1, 13 KO) made the transition to the cruiserweight division smoothly with a terrific stoppage over a respected contender in Brudov (41-5, 28 KO) after a wild fight that saw Brudov visit the canvas twice and Bellew, a native of England, being shaken several times. In the end, Bellew’s championship class showed as he outclassed his Russian foe in the home stretch and sent him down for good in the final round of the bout courtesy of a left hook (which sent the fighter to the canvas) and aided by an allegedly broken foot (which kept him there, we assume). Nice win for a fighter with a solid fan base and an entertaining style.

The winner goes on to: With Nathan Cleverly already thinking about making a jump up to this weight class, a bad-blood homebrew rematch of their controversial 2011 fight could be next for both of them.

Durban, South Africa, March 15

Moruti Mthalane SD 12 Jether Oliva, flyweights

A gritty comeback win for a tough former champ. Mthalane (30-2, 20 KO) managed to keep a very difficult Filipino contender in Oliva (20-2-2, 10 KO) at bay with a hard-fought split decision in his favor (117-112, 116-112 for Mthalane, 115-113 for Oliva), while surviving a swollen eye and a barrage of heavier shots by the younger visiting contender. Sensing trouble, Mthalane pressed the action through the last few rounds, digging deep to come back with a solid win that would put him on his way to bigger challenges.

The winner goes on to: His countryman Hekkie Budler may be still too small for him, but a fight between them could be huge in South Africa if it ever happens.

Arlamow, Poland, March 15

Andrzej Wawrczyk TKO 5 Francois Botha, heavyweights

One’s too young to quit, the other is too old to continue fighting. Wawrczyk (29-1, 15 KO), continued in the comeback trail after his unsuccessful title bout against Alexander Povetkin in May 2013 with a pedestrian but effective stoppage of hopeless former contender Botha (48-11-2, 29 KO), now 45 years old, in a textbook crossroads fight. A straight right sent Botha on his back to the canvas, and the following onslaught convinced the referee to stop the carnage two minutes into the fifth round. South Africa’s Botha was once considered the missing link between the WWF and the WBA/WBC/IBF/WBO (with a dash of WTF thrown in for good measure), climbing onto the ring with a variety of exuberant costumes and referring himself as “the real African-American”, among other delicacies. Slow as an iceberg and inexcusably soft in the belly, Botha now appears to be headed to a yet-to-be-created acronym organization reserved for over-the-hill former contenders. Assuming he’s a dad, let’s call the new organization FILF (Fathers I’d Like to Fight), an all-parent, pro-am competition, and make him their first champion. Anybody?

The winner goes on to: It’s hard to see Wawrczyk beating a world-class contender in his prime, given his slow, plodding style and his awkward stance, but I’d love to see him try.

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